The National Curriculum using AusVels is currently being implemented in some subject areas this year. In 2013, English, Mathematics, Science and History will be reported on against the new curriculum. The other areas are still in progress. The VELS (Victorian Essential Learning Standards) has provided the basis for curriculum planning in Victorian Schools for years prep to10 and for reporting on student achievement in recent years.
The Standards work on five educational principles that underpin schooling for all students.
- Learning for all: the belief that all students can learn given sufficient time and support, and that good schools and good teaching make a positive difference.
- Pursuit of excellence: seeking to accomplish something noteworthy and admirable individually and collectively, and perform at their best.
- Engagement and effort: acknowledging that student ability is only one factor in achievement, and if students work hard and make an effort they improve.
- Respect for evidence: seeking understanding and truth through structured inquiry and the application of evidence to test and question beliefs.
- Openness of mind: being willing to consider a range of different views and consider different ways in which evidence is perceived and solutions can be reached.
There are three strands in the Victorian Essential Learning Standards that define what students should know and be able to do at different stages of learning.
- Physical, Personal and Social Learning: such as health and physical education and civics and citizenship
- Discipline-based Learning: of subjects such as the arts, economics, English, mathematics, geography and history
- Interdisciplinary Learning: covering Communication and Information Technology.
- Standards for different years
Each Standard describes what students are expected to know and be able to do at that level, and how well they should know and be able to do it. Schools aim to give students the life skills to manage themselves as individuals and in relation to others, understand the world in which they live, and act effectively in it.
The Standards focus on the knowledge and skills of the student. Student behaviour is observed by teachers and included in student reports.
Over the 11 years of compulsory schooling, The Standards are set at six levels that recognise the differing learning needs of students. These levels are generally associated with the following year levels:
- Level 1 – Prep
- Level 2 – Years 1 and 2
- Level 3 – Years 3 and 4
- Level 4 – Years 5 and 6
- Level 5 – Years 7 and 8
- Level 6 – Years 9 and 10
Standards are set at a challenging level, not minimum competence, to suit the age and developmental stages of students. This helps to ensure that students are stretched to learn, rather than doing work they find easy.